CHITRAL: Former MNA Shahzada Iftikharuddin on Saturday called upon the prime minister and the chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to order immediate rehabilitation of the Chitral-Mastuj road that was washed away by the river near Reshun on Friday night.
He also demanded emergency relief for the residents who have lost their properties.
The erosion of the road, which is under the NHA, has cut off the entire district of Upper Chitral with a population of 250,000 from the rest of country. Since 2015, Reshun has faced devastating flash floods in the stream that flows into the Mastuj River.
“Consistent floods in the Reshun Gol since 2015 that washed away 200 houses in July that year besides loss of lives points towards inadequate planning followed by extremely poor implementation,” he stated in a social media post.
Just two months back, huge amounts of funds were spent on diverting the Mastuj River and residents of Reshun complained that the government resources were wasted and their suggestions and concerned were never made part if the actual scheme execution.
Warning letters by DC Upper Chitral to the commissioner Malakand and the chief secretary KP went unheeded. Repeated reminders of the DC to the Relief and Rehabilitation Department as well as the NHA chairman of the impending threats to the local agricultural lands and NHA road fell on deaf ears.
Now people have lost their houses and belongings due to the substandard river diversion work and the irrigation department and NHA authorities must be held accountable for not taking proactive measures who in spite of being forewarned about the threats posed by the rising river water to houses and road remained indifferent as they have developed a tendency of reacting to disasters rather than taking proactive measures.
“Sadly, now poor local residents have been left shelterless under the open air having lost not only their agricultural lands and houses besides precious possessions but 250,000 residents of Upper Chitral have also been also cut off from the rest of the country as the NHA road has been completely washed away creating a crisis-like situation and sadly that also disconnects the communication lines
in such a sensitive border district of northern Pakistan.”
He said he had personally met the secretary relief two months back and informed him of the impending threat with rising river waters.
Unfortunately, now only stop-gap temporary measures can be taken since the river water is expected to rise further and will further expose the lands and houses and NHA roads to further threats and permanent rehabilitation can only be taken once the river waters get low in winters.
“In a bizarre move, a steel bridge installed in 2015 after the flash floods at Reshun for which the FWO was paid Rs4.5 crore has been taken back by FWO once the RCC bridge was constructed by the C&W department. The same bridge could have been kept for emergency purposes to meet flood-like eventualities in other parts of the disaster prone Chitral.”
Moreover, a poorly designed RCC bridge over the Reshun stream by the C&W Department was washed away a year after its inauguration in 2019 for the second time.
This has created an established pattern of destruction of public infrastructure resulting from flash floods, and poor planning and inadequate design which doesn’t take into account the local flooding patterns and time consuming substandard work that makes the worst use of precious govt resources where department officials accord little importance other than a routine repair and rehabilitation work whose only beneficiaries turn out to be local contractors and concerned department officials.
This warrants fair and transparent inquiries by both the KP government as well as the federal government since the irrigation and C&W and relief and rehabilitation departments well as the NHA are the concerned departments whose inaction or substandard work is adding contemporary stop-gap solutions that only end up the miseries of the general public as well as waste of precious resources.
The prime minister and the CM KP must personally intervene and take note and fix responsibility and besides extending relief to the affected people, he added.